April 21, 2010

FIELD WORK by Seamus Heaney

Earlier today, if the forces of the working world (a term I use loosely in my situation) hadn't conspired against me, I should have been at a reading by one of my favorite living poets, Seamus Heaney. He spoke at Hunter College, as part of their MFA program's Distinguished Writers Series, and I was invited to the free (!) event by way of my awesome boss (can't wait to hear about it tomorrow!). Though in the end I didn't get to see him, I did get to spend my commute reading from my newly purchased (and, alas, unsigned) copy of his collection of poems, Field Work.
Also, I didn't feel too horribly - I have seen him speak once before. This was at University College Dublin, when one morning a friend informed me that he would be speaking in her class that afternoon. Naturally, we dropped everything and went, and he was wonderful. In fact, I distinctly remember his reading of a poem from Field Work, "A Drink of Water." It is a beautiful, simple poem that he spoke of fondly, as a representation of his time in a sort of seclusion in the mountains of Wicklow (during which all of Field Work was written). Heaney really is an amazing poet (Nobel Prize-winning!) and I hope I get to see him again someday soon. Here is a short poem from Field Work, that seems somehow fitting in the Springtime:


A rowan like a lipsticked girl
Between the by-road and the main road
Alder trees at a wet and dripping distance
Stand off among the rushes.

There are the mud-flowers of dialect
And the immortelles of perfect pitch
And that moment when the bird sings very close
To the music of what happens.

-Seamus Heaney, 1979

On another note, I promise (mostly just to myself) that this space will soon be filled with more book discussions. I have a quickly-growing pile of books that have been read and are waiting to be written about, amongst them The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, The Year of Magical Thinking, The Emperor's Children, and Let the Great World Spin. Sometimes it is tough to get the motivation to write when I'd rather be reading my really good book - a problem (albeit a good one) that I seem to be encountering often these days.

(Cover via)


  1. What a beautiful poem. I need to read more of Seamus Heaney. I am seriously behind on so much poetry.

  2. I have a hard time keeping up on poetry also...but I have a bunch of Seamus Heaney poetry collections if you ever want to borrow them!